Fairy Wren aggressive towards Willy Wagtail

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gillegan's picture
Fairy Wren aggressive towards Willy Wagtail

I was recently amazed by the behaviour of a Superb Fairy Wren in our birdbath. A brown wren that I believe was a non-breeding male did the most incredible impersonation of a mouse and made quite a number of aggressive rushes around the rim of the birdbath at a Willy Wagtail. The wren put his tail down and flicked it side to side while puffing up his neck, rounding out his body, and lowering his head right down to feet level. He would then do a very flat run aroun the rim with his jaws... oops, I mean beak, gaping wide. The Willy skipped around a bit to avoid the charge, and the Wren would retreat for a moment, only to repeat the behaviour again and again. The other wrens in the family simply bounced around in the bushes no more than a metre away and seemed amused by the spectacle, cheering the "mouse" on and occassionally playing chicken by hopping onto the rim themselves then flitting off before the next charge.

I have read about the "rodent run" displayed by breeding wrens in an attempt to distract potential predators, but this seemed far more aggressive, and although a very large family group live in or around my garden, I don't believe they are nesting very close to the birdbath. Being outer Brisbane it's probably good breeding weather all year round and there have been at least 2 or 3 fully coloured males in the group ever since we moved here in December, so I guess they may be breeding but the bird displaying the behaviour was brown.

Has anyone else seen this?

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